Yes, this is another one of those Pomodoro posts... but hear me out:
For the past few months, I've been obsessed with how to be more productive. As someone who is currently reskilling to become a front-end developer from a biochemistry education, I've developed my own process that I trust blindly to becoming more productive.
Like many self-learners, I've stumbled upon many resources and became eager to start, however, this excitement lead to being overwhelmed which can be detrimental to your progress. Here are the building blocks of my process that I use with Pomodoro's to help me in my journey.
Self-learning can be tough and often we love to see results quickly. Unfortunately, change doesn't happen overnight and can take months of progress to build up and see the results of your efforts. The best thing to do is to start with one thing at a time and slowly break them down with Pomodoro's.
It is a simple time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo that requires 25 minutes of focus and 5 minute break. That is 1 unit of Pomodoro (aka tomato in Italian). I've developed a habit where the moment where I start a Pomodoro, my brain automatically goes to work without any friction. Starting and maintaining focus is a hard skill to master. Pomodoro's strengthen this ability which can help tremendously in building momentum.
I've used countless Pomodoro applications and found that Pomotodo.com works best for me. It is extremely simple and I love the fact that it can sync to your Google Calendar to show you the Pomodoro's you've completed (I'm currently paying for the premium version for just for this feature but if you know of a free one, please let me know!)
Edit: PomoDoneApp is a great one that has many features, I highly recommend it.
Pomodoro's can provide a nice visual measurement of your progress which can snowball you into continuing your good habits. Remember that even if you spent 1 or 2 Pomodoro's trying to fix something, it is the effort that matters.
I will continue to do my Pomodoro's every day until I get somewhere. I know if I can complete over 80 Pomodoro's (2000 minutes or 33 hours) every month, I'll be a step closer to my goal.
I actually use this to track my time in progression through a Udemy course or any course I'm working on. I know many people like to have different things allocated for Pomodoro's but I find that using it as a time tracker works just fine.
It is important to give yourself a celebration for learning something new. These positive reinforcements will help you greatly. A fantastic way to do this is to do the first tip above!
By doing Pomodoro's, you effectively celebrate small signs of progress by increasing the number of Pomodoro's you do every day. The big victory is often the result of small ones.
Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before — Franz Kafka
Looking at your Pomodoro's gives you a sense of progress and that is what we often look for. Sometimes when you're trying to achieve your goal, you lose sight of any progress because it's not there yet — you're still learning the fundamentals and haven't built anything and that's okay!
I stumbled upon a Reddit users' comment ryans01 talking about no more zero days. It's implementing a system that gets rid of any day you do not do a single thing towards your goal. A non-zero-day.
I actually applied this technique for my Pomodoro's. There are many days where I just feel like not doing anything, perhaps I'm just not feeling it or life gets in the way. I do at least 1 Pomodoro and then I'll give myself permission to relax. However, I find that when I do 1 Pomodoro, my momentum kicks in and I eventually do more than I expected that day which is a win-win.
It's important to self-reflect on your Pomodoro's and see how much you've done and where your time is being allocated. I've had many self-reflections revealing efforts going off course such as jumping to different resources and not properly allocating the time to finish something. It helps bring correction to your journey and brings your focus back to where it needs to be.
For years I thought to be productive meant to always be doing something to achieve my goals. However, this can lead to burn-out and often lead to a huge halt in your progression.
One of the most important things to learn is when to decompress and relax. It gives your mind the ability to recover from having to learn new things all the time. We're all humans who live in an oscillatory universe and have our rhythms.
Remember that resting and recovering is a big part of being productive. Usually, I set a daily of 6 Pomodoro's and when I've completed my daily amount, I'll end up spending guilt-free time doing leisure activity.
"Time enjoyed wasting is not wasted time" — Marthe Troly-Curtin
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Feel free to adapt and try out this process and tweak it as much as it suits you. I'd love to hear what your process is like in the comments below!
My inspirations come from the books below:
- Atomic Habits - James Clear
- The Power of Full Engagement - James E. Loehr and Tony Schartz
Photo by Vince Lee on Unsplash